On March 17, 2010, a former U.S. citizen and now a sworn enemy of the United States, Imam Anwar Al-Awlaki, released a 12-minute audio message directed at American Muslims. As most of us know by now, Imam Al-Awlaki is responsible for the recruitment of Maj Nidal Hassan for his Nov. 5, 2009, massacre at Fort Hood and Umar Farooq Abdulmuttalib as the Christmas Day underwear bomber. He has radicalized countless other Muslims around the world, possibly including two of the 9/11 hijackers while he led a large mosque in San Diego. As a homegrown American fluent in English he has been particularly effective in generating homegrown terrorists.
Al-Awlaki understands what many American Muslims have yet to grasp, that there is a civil war of ideas within the Muslim consciousness struggling for control of the very idea of what it means to be Muslim. In fact, in 2007 after his release from a Yemeni prison, he gave the world a detailed Islamist diatribe on his take on the “Battle of the Hearts and Minds”. In it, he obsessed on a think tank position paper from Rand. That paper, Cheryl Benard’s, “Building Moderate Muslim Networks” has remained one of the best primary analyses of what is at stake in the war of ideas within the ‘House of Islam’. His fixation on the details of the study is proof positive of its many well targeted points. In his diatribe, he even names Benard’s husband, Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad, former Ambassador to the United Nations, an apostate. I and most American Muslims see Khalilzad as actually one of the most courageous American Muslims of our time.
In his March 17, 2010, audio message, Al- Awlaki gets to the heart of the debate and tells American Muslims:
“I, for one, was born in the U.S. and lived in the U.S. for 21 years. America was my home. I was a preacher of Islam involved in nonviolent Islamic activism; however, with the American invasion of Iraq and continued aggression against Muslims I could not reconcile between living in the U.S. and being a Muslim. And I eventually came to the conclusion that jihad against America is binding upon myself just as it is binding for every other Muslim.
I invite you to read the book of Allah, the Qur’an. You do not have to take anyone’s word for it. Decide for your self whether it is the truth or not.
To the Muslims in America, I have this to say: how can your conscience allow you to live in peaceful coexistence with a nation that is responsible for the tyranny and crimes committed against your own brothers and sisters. How can you have your loyalty for a government that is leading the war against Islam and Muslims…stand up!”
This American Muslim, for one has had it! Enough is enough! We will no longer allow fascists like Mr. Al-Awlaki to release this garbage unopposed, and have it aired around the world with only a footnoted response from Muslims!
As American Muslims we demand equal time and coverage of our response to the venom of Al-Awlaki as they have given to the coverage of Al-Awlaki and any other Islamist apologists.
We, at the American Islamic Forum for Democracy call upon American media, government leaders, and academics to have the courage to broadcast and disseminate a direct unfiltered response from American Muslims to Mr. Al-Awlaki’s unfiltered jihadist call to arms against our own nation. It is time for Americans to hear from Los Angeles to New York American Muslim calls of our unqualified preference of America, its Constitutional republic, and liberty over any ‘Islamic’ state, over political Islam, and over shar’iah. It is time for American Muslims to give the Anwar Al-Alwakis of the world the response they deserve.
Here it is. An open letter of reply to Al-Awlakis audio message:
Wednesday, March 17, 2010
Dear Imam Anwar al-Awlaki:
I am in receipt via coverage on CNN of your offensive audio message to American Muslims. As the head of an American Muslim organization dedicated to combating the very ideas you represent, I feel obligated to respond immediately and openly to your offensive call for jihad. I am writing this open letter to you to respond to the cowardly audio you sent from your hole in Yemen to our shores today. Your audio is a cowardly salvo form a man who realizes that his ideas for Islam will never win in a fair playing field of the hearts and minds of Muslims. Your ideas only prevail among Muslims through violence, evil, deception, and coercion. As a father, a doctor, a soldier, a devout Muslim, and most importantly as an American I will no longer allow your toxic message to put our children and our families at risk without a direct American Muslim response.
No, Anwar, this country it is not evil. It is you who is evil and this nation and its people who are blessed. This nation gave my family the freedom and liberty to practice Islam in a way that no majority Muslim nation has ever allowed. I was raised learning to pray, fast, give charity, build mosques, and help those in need in the character of my faith as a result of the free environment of this United States. I learned this despite the repulsive nature of imams like yourself who drive so many reasonable Muslims away from the faith and so many weak and vulnerable ones towards your fascism. My parents fled the radicalism of theo-political fascist thugs like you in the Middle East in order to give our family a fresh start in the land of freedom- America. I have throughout my life in my soul accepted spiritual Islam as my relationship with God; however, I have also always wholly rejected political Islam because of its supremacist mindset which you embody.
Growing up in Wisconsin, learning to become a physician and then serving in our armed forces as a naval officer and a physician, I learned about the beauty of the diversity of America and the equal access of all of its citizens to our society and our government. I learned about the beauty of a government which separates church and state and yet was formed by very pious Christian and all people of faith but yet remaining “under God” as a nation of common morals and values. The United States is a nation which you intentionally misunderstand and twist for your own despotic ambitions. You may believe that moderate Muslims like us at the American Islamic Forum for Democracy are apostates since we reject the Islamic state, political Islam, and governmental shar’iah. But I know Islam well enough to know that there are no intermediaries between a Muslim and God. Takfir (excommunication) is forbidden and you may also be a Muslim but your Islam is not my Islam. You are nothing but a fascist theocrat who uses Wahhabi interpretations of our Qur’an in order to wage illegitimate wars.
The wars of Iraq and Afghanistan are legitimate and are in fact waged with the intention of leaving a far better nation for Muslims and non-Muslims in the free practice of Islam and all faiths than the tyrant Saddam or the despotic Taliban ever did for their citizens which they considered their slaves. You intentionally ignore the representative forms of government being empowered in those nations so that you can deceive those who listen to your propaganda. American troops are simply doing what Muslims should have done in Iraq and Afghanistan long ago. As a freedom-loving Muslim, I pray that the same revolutions for liberty happen from within the nations of Syria, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Iran, Libya, Jordan, the Emirates, and Pakistan to name a few led this time by civil wars from Muslim liberty movements against the thugs, monarchs, autocrats, and theocrats like yourself who are running these nations.
You may have lived in the U.S. but you were never a real citizen of this nation. In fact, let me be the first to call on all American Muslims of conscience to lead a movement and a call of our communities to join our military so that one day when you and your colleagues are brought to justice it may be at the hand of another American Muslim. This is not a war between Muslims and non-Muslims. It is a war between Muslims. The ummah (Muslim nation) is dead. We have abandoned it for the greater protector of freedom which are nations based in freedom like the United States.
The penalty Anwar, for treason against our nation and declaring war against our citizens is death. When I first heard about your influence upon Nidal Hasan, we at AIFD called for your capture by our armed forces immediately as a global threat to the security of our nation and its citizens. I continue that call today.
I am proud as a devout American Muslim to say that I wholly support our nation and our armed forces in their war effort against you, Al Qaeda, and all of your global supporters. I know of many American Muslims that would love to see you suffer the ultimate punishment for your crimes against our nation and our citizens that give our Muslim families freedom and liberty.
Anwar, the Islamic state is dead. The creation of secular liberal democracies in the west that separated church and state (mosque and state for Muslims) after the American Revolution have proven in their success and in my experience living here that they are the best form of government and far preferable for Muslims over your theocratic oppressive Islamic state. As a Muslim, I prefer a legal system that all of our citizens can understand and reason over one based in the oppressive oligarchy of shar’iah.
Anwar, the concept of jihad must be dispensed to the dustbin of history. No oath can ever conflict with our oath to protect this nation as citizens and my oath to protect it as a former U.S. Navy officer. This is not only against the Islam I know, but I as a Muslim want nothing to do with your interpretations of Islam. As an Islamist who believes in political Islam you are certainly in direct conflict with America’s principles of liberty. But as a Muslim who has dedicated my life to countering and combating the ideas of political Islam, I will not allow you to monopolize what is and what is not Islam.
We can separate mosque and state as Muslims. We can abandon all militant jihad and ascribe to the concept of war as deemed just between secular states and reject your collectivization of Muslims. We can read the same Qur’an and tell fascists like yourself that your understanding of freedom is flawed and your interpretation of the Qur’an is medieval.
My conscience and oath as an American and as a Muslim guides me to trust in my military, my communities, and in my government against all enemies foreign and domestic whether Muslim or not. Anwar, our American nationalism and love for this great country and its egalitarian values of liberty is far stronger than your blind hate and fascism will ever be which hides under the veneer of Islam.
I invite you to turn yourself in. to authorities and face a military tribunal for your war crimes. I invite you to be subject to the death penalty for your treason, your disloyalty, and your war crimes to the citizens of the United States of America.
You and the ideas for which you stand are the greatest liability to Muslims across the world. The continuum of political Islam which created you is an assembly line of radicalism against the west which prevents Muslim youth from identifying with a system based in liberty over theocracy. Many Muslims start like you said you did in ‘non-violent Islamic activism’ only to find spiritual sanctioners who lead them to become violent. One day you will realize that most Muslims want nothing to do with the Islamic state and once given freedom to protest and question authority they will express their disgust with theocrats like yourself and your interpretations of Islam.
Enough is enough Anwar. I and other Muslims will no longer remain silent against the spread of your hatred and evil. You may be Muslim, but your Islam is certainly not our Islam. May you soon see the other end of my fellow citizen’s rifles. You are not my brother in Islam.
Mohamed Zuhdi Jasser
M. Zuhdi Jasser is the President and Founder of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy based in Phoenix, Arizona. He is a former U.S. Navy Lieutenant Commander and a physician in private practice. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org